From Sheets to Solutions: The Unseen Impact of All Foils

In this interview, Jim Papp, Director of Sales for  All Foils, discusses the multifaceted operations and contributions of his company within the metal foil industry. Located in Strongsville, Ohio, All Foils is a distributor and converter of aluminum, copper, and other metal foils, serving a broad spectrum of industrial applications. With a dedicated team of approximately 80 employees, the company excels in processing metal foils for diverse uses, ranging from cryogenic insulation to flexible food packaging and electrical components. Highlighting the meticulous attention to kosher certification standards, particularly in coatings and lubricants, Jim Papp outlines how All Foils ensures compliance with these rigorous standards.

OU Kosher: Can you provide a brief overview of All Foils and the services you offer? 

Jim Papp: All Foils is a distributor and converter of aluminum, copper, and various other metal foils. Our team, of about 80 employees, operates out of our location in Strongsville, Ohio. We specialize in processing and transforming metal foils for a variety of industrial applications. 

Our facility is divided into two main areas: the processing side and the bare-foil side. The bare-foil side focuses on aluminum foil without any color-coded lamination. We modify these foils by slitting larger rolls into narrower ones for specific uses or by converting foil rolls into sheets.  

For example, we make ultra-thin foils used in the cryogenic industry, where they insulate cryogenic vessels containing liquefied gases like nitrogen or helium. Our foils are also used in electrical components such as capacitors, resistors, and transistors. 

OU Kosher: How does All Foils supply the packaging industry? 

Jim Papp: We’re heavily involved in flexible packaging. All Foils provides light gauge aluminum foils essential for food packaging found in supermarkets. We also have a value-added process side where we add color and coatings, or applying adhesive to it. 

OU Kosher: What are some unique applications of your processed foils? 

Jim Papp: Our processed foils have a variety of uses. For the confectionery industry, we add color to light gauge foils for wrapping candy bars. We also treat foils with barrier coatings for blue cheese packaging, preventing ammonia from the cheese from reacting with the foil. In the disposable container sector, our foils are used in meal packaging available in grocery stores, which are then turned into containers by downstream converters. 

OU Kosher: Could you explain the role of a converter in your industry? 

Jim Papp: A converter enhances raw materials by processes like slitting, sheeting, fabricating, or adding color. We are not an aluminum mill; instead, we take master rolls from mills and add value through additional processing. This includes applying colors, coatings, laminations, and customizing them to meet customer specifications. Essentially, we act as a supply chain intermediary, specializing in services that mills are not equipped or inclined to provide due to quantity or capability constraints. 

OU Kosher: In what ways does All Foils serve the HVAC industry and maintain kosher certification standards? 

Jim Papp: We are significantly engaged in the HVAC industry, applying corrosion-resistant coatings to components like air conditioning compressors and furnaces. We also apply release coatings for foils used in food service, ensuring compliance with kosher certification for products that are privately labeled by our downstream converters. 

OU Kosher: Could you elaborate on the precautions taken to ensure the coatings and lubricants meet kosher standards? 

Jim Papp: I’m recalling the procedures, as I don’t accompany the rabbi as often as before. Our main focus is to ensure that the coatings we use are free from animal derivatives, as are the lubricants. To verify this, we open our records to the rabbi to demonstrate the ingredients used in our products. We also confirm that the mills supplying our foil do not use animal by-products in their production, and I can confirm they do not. Essentially, all lubricants we use are vegetable oil-based. 

OU Kosher: So, for kosher certification, anything that contacts food must be certified? 

Jim Papp: Yes, absolutely. Anything that comes into contact with food requires certification. Sometimes, the lubricants involved in processing may leave residue, but we ensure they don’t compromise the food’s kosher status. 

OU Kosher: Are you indicating that the mills use exclusively vegetable oil as a lubricant during the rolling process? 

Jim Papp: Correct. The mills predominantly use vegetable oil to roll the foil to the desired thickness. We have to present the certification and the analysis to the rabbi during his annual visit, showing that the coatings we use are kosher-certified. 

OU Kosher: Are the corrosion-resistant coatings the primary subject of the rabbi’s inspection? 

Jim Papp: Actually, most of the coatings he examines are for non-stick applications, not the anti-corrosion ones. The anti-corrosive coatings are strictly for non-food items, like fins in air conditioners and furnaces. 

OU Kosher: Were there any process or product revisions needed for kosher certification, or were all your products already compliant? 

Jim Papp: Fortunately, our products were compliant from the start. Domestic rolling mills are actively engaged with kosher certification and already had suitable foil available. As for the non-stick coatings we use, they were already in use within the industry and had kosher certification from the vendors. All Foils was able to source these certified coatings to apply in our own conversion processes. 

OU Kosher: How was the decision made to pursue kosher certification? 

Jim Papp: The initiation came from a supplier’s request. We’re also HACCP certified, and when the OU certification became a requirement, it was one of many new aspects I had to become acquainted with in this role. 

OU Kosher: What steps did you take to prepare for OU certification? 

Jim Papp: Together with a few colleagues, we engaged with the OU, ensuring we were prepared for the certification process. This meant being thoroughly inspected and having all necessary documentation ready for the certifying individual’s visit to All Foils. 

OU Kosher: Did you have prior knowledge about kosher certification? 

Jim Papp: Yes, from my time working with aluminum mills, I was already familiar with Pesach and other Jewish observances through industry contacts. Additionally, as a teenager, I worked for a catering company serving predominantly at Orthodox Jewish events. That experience gave me a foundational understanding, which certainly made the process smoother. 

OU Kosher: It seems you’ve encountered kosher practices in multiple stages of your career? 

Jim Papp: Indeed, it’s serendipitous how my earlier experiences provided me with knowledge that became valuable in my current position. Who would have guessed that those early insights would be so beneficial here at All Foils? 

OU Kosher: Is there any employee education on kosher awareness necessary at All Foils? 

Jim Papp: In our line of work, detailed employee training on kosher practices isn’t necessary. Everyone is aware of our certifications and the general requirements. We have an EH&S administrator responsible for compliance, who now also assists the rabbi during inspections to demonstrate our adherence to kosher guidelines. 

OU Kosher: How long has All Foils been OU certified? 

Jim Papp: We’ve been certified for about 13 or 14 years now, and I’ve personally been with the company for 27 years. 

OU Kosher: That’s quite a tenure. How does it feel to have been at All Foils for so long? 

Jim Papp: It feels rewarding. I joined the company not expecting to stay long, considering my college major in psychology. My uncle was the president at the time, and I quickly advanced through the ranks. I’m grateful to work with excellent ownership and support staff. This job has supported me and my family beyond just the financial aspect, providing benefits and opportunities to travel places I never would have otherwise. There’s a reason I’ve stayed for 27 years, and it’s not just the gray hairs. 

OU Kosher: Can you describe the scope of your market? Are you selling beyond regional boundaries? 

Jim Papp: Yes, our reach is national and international. We operate on a global scale. 

OU Kosher: Could you name an international market that you serve? 

Jim Papp: One example would be customers in Germany and South America. They use our foil to line their cryogenic vessels and rail cars. 

OU Kosher: So, you have a centralized operation in the U.S. with a global distribution network? 

Jim Papp: Precisely. We have a central location in the United States, and we sell to subsidiaries and clients worldwide, with the core distribution of the material being managed from the States. 

OU Kosher: You work with companies that have satellite facilities around the world, correct? 

Jim Papp: Yes, that’s correct. 

OU Kosher: Were your processes impacted by the certification? 

Jim Papp: Obtaining certification was a non-intrusive process. We didn’t have to make significant changes, just ensure transparency and compliance during inspections. 

OU Kosher: So the certification process didn’t require major adjustments in your operations? 

Jim Papp: Correct. The most we had to do was accompany the rabbi during his visits. 

OU Kosher: And your interactions with the rabbi, do they require any particular attention? 

Jim Papp: No special treatment, though I must say, I have always enjoyed Rabbi Fishman’s visits. His humor and stories are quite entertaining. He often greets me in a friendly manner, even if I’m in the middle of something else. 

OU Kosher: It sounds like you value transparency and have a good rapport with the certifying rabbis. Is product development part of your operations? 

Jim Papp: Our product development is largely collaborative, involving both our customers and suppliers. For instance, consider the aluminum cap on a medicine vial used to secure the medication; that’s an example of the type of product we might develop in partnership with our clients. 

OU Kosher: Regarding your market reach, are you operating beyond local sales? 

Jim Papp: Absolutely, we sell nationally and even internationally. 

OU Kosher: Can you surprise me with the name of one of your international markets? 

Jim Papp: Sure, our foil is used in cryogenic applications by customers in Germany and South America. They line their cryogenic vessels and rail cars with our products. 

OU Kosher: So All Foils operates from the U.S. but has a global reach? 

Jim Papp: Yes, we have a central hub in the U.S. and serve clients worldwide, maintaining our headquarters and primary distribution center stateside. 

OU Kosher: You deal with companies that have international facilities, then? 

Jim Papp: That’s correct. 

OU Kosher: Were there any process changes needed for kosher certification? 

Jim Papp: Not really, it was a non-intrusive process. Essentially, the only addition was accompanying the rabbi on his visits. 

OU Kosher: Does your interaction with the rabbi require a special approach? 

Jim Papp: No, though I do enjoy Rabbi Fishman’s visits. His humor and stories are quite engaging, making his presence a welcome break in my day. 

OU Kosher: It’s good to hear that transparency and a strong rapport with the certification authorities are important to you. Moving on, does All Foils engage in product development? 

Jim Papp: Yes, we often collaborate with our customers and suppliers for product development. For instance, we’re involved in creating the aluminum caps for pharmaceutical vials. 

Part 5 

OU Kosher: Are you currently involved in any new ventures? 

Jim Papp: We are working with vendors in the pharmaceutical industry, developing coatings for caps that can withstand autoclave treatments. This is a joint effort between All Foils and our partners. 

OU Kosher: In these projects, are you creating new specifications or adapting existing ones? 

Jim Papp: We adapt existing specifications to suit our machinery and conversion equipment capabilities. 

OU Kosher: Are these caps color-coded for easy identification? 

Jim Papp: Yes, especially in veterinary medicine, where they use about 10 to 12 different colors. 

OU Kosher: It’s interesting how ubiquitous items like these are often overlooked. Can you tell me more about how the foil is applied? 

Jim Papp: The foil is applied by the vial manufacturers. They form it into caps and then supply it to pharmaceutical companies, which fill the vials. 

OU Kosher: What about the future? Are there new directions or expansions planned for All Foils? 

Jim Papp: Indeed, we’re exploring opportunities with the electric vehicle (EV) battery industry and a primer coat for tier-one auto manufacturers. We’re considering expanding our facility to support these ventures. 

OU Kosher: Are you looking to engage in the battery industry as well? 

Jim Papp: Yes, we plan to produce aluminum foil with a conductive carbon black coating for battery manufacturers. This could support both EVs and broader battery applications. 

OU Kosher: Is there currently a domestic source for this carbon-coated foil? 

Jim Papp: Not presently, most of it is imported. But with the Inflation Reduction Act, we hope to establish a local supply. 

OU Kosher: All right, well good luck with that. It’s truly exciting. 

Jim Papp: It definitely introduces us to a more complex and risky domain within the industry, given the precision required. 

OU Kosher: It seems that there’s a substantial amount of risk involved due to the need for perfect consistency. 

Jim Papp: You’re right about the risk. While we manage our liability carefully and indemnify our products to our business customers, we don’t extend that indemnity all the way to the end consumer. 

OU Kosher: For companies interested in your products, could you summarize why they should work with All Foils? 

Jim Papp: I can. The cornerstone of our business is our commitment to excellence — in our standards. We pride ourselves on offering the best products at competitive prices, supporting our customers through every phase of their process, regardless of the size or scope of their projects. 

OU Kosher: That says a lot about your company culture. 

Jim Papp: Some of our staff have over 30 years of experience. And they’re able to have complex conversations with customers.  Our company ethos is built on this depth of knowledge and our commitment to say ‘yes’ to challenges. 

OU Kosher: So you your team is like All Foils is like a  family. 

Jim Papp: Exactly. Like any family, we have our share of idiosyncrasies, but that’s what keeps us together and drives us. 

OU Kosher: You can choose your friends, but not your family. 

Jim Papp: That’s true. And thank you for this opportunity to share our story. 

OU Kosher: Thank you for your time and best of luck with your new venture.